Prime Minister Narendra Modi pressed the refresh button and inducted 20 new faces in his council of ministers rewarding giant killers in the Lok Sabha election and dropping some of the most visible faces of his team — finance minister Arun Jaitley, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and commerce minister Suresh Prabhu.
While Jaitley’s omission had become public on Wednesday as he opted out on health grounds, the absence of Sushma and Prabhu came as a surprise.
A bigger surprise, however, was the inclusion of former foreign secretary S. Jaishankar into the cabinet.
In the last five years, despite serious ailment, Sushma had won accolades for turning foreign office into people’s ministry and Suresh Prabhu was seen as the “to go” man handling key ministries including railways.
The tallest among the first-time ministers is party president Amit Shah who was seated third in the row of seniority after the PM and Rajnath Singh. He was followed by Nitin Gadkari and Sadanand Gowda.
The first indication of Amit Shah’s progression into the government had come when he decided to contest Lok Sabha elections from Gandhinagar. After scripting historic victory for the BJP in the election, he was seen as a natural claimant for a prominent position.
The Modi-Shah team will now be in play in the government after scoring a series of electoral wins.
Those who fought valiantly in the election were rewarded even if they were first-time MPs.
First-time MP from Secunderabad G Krishan Reddy was awarded with MoS berth. Kailash Choudhary, a young BJP leader who fought a tough battle in Barmer against Madhavendra Singh of the Congress (formerly with BJP), was a rewarded with MoS rank.
Debashree Choudhary, who won from Raiganj in West Bengal in a tough fight, is now a minister.
Pratap Chandra Sarangi, first-time MP from Balasore in Odisha, got the maximum cheers as he is already known on the internet for his humble lifestyle, has been made a minister.
Even among allies, Arvind Sawant of Shiv Sena who defeated Milind Deora of Congress in South Mumbai, has joined the cabinet.
Some promiment names like Rajyavardhan Rathore, Jayant Sinha and Maneka Gandhi have been dropped.